5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Your Blog

So many of us wonder how to start a blog, if it's even worth the time, etc. Well I'm here to tell you that starting a blog is worth it and it totally doesn't have to be a headache. Here are 5 things you can do right now to start your blog.

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1. Pick what you wanna blog about  

It's super important that you have a niche or a topic that you want to talk about. This helps you determine who your target market will be, how you'll brand yourself, etc. Pick your passion topic and move on to step 2. 

2. Pick out your website name

And pick out like 2 or 3 just incase. Sometimes the name we choose will be taken and it sucks. So pick 2 or 3 names you want to use. I'll admit this part can be difficult but it's what defines your blog ! Think of words that relate to your topic for example productivity/planning I picked paper and a plan. Cooking you could do two pots and a pan (LMAO!) Or something. Think outside the box and see what you come up with. 

3. Research hosts and pick your favorite  

I personally use squarespace for my domain and hosting. Others include ning, wordpress, Wix, etc. They all have different plans, costs, etc. So make sure to research a little bit. Once you find one, be sure to test your website name ideas to make sure they're available.

4. Sign up for mailchimp like now.  

Trust me when I say you're gonna want to start your email list as soon as you possibly can. Even if you're sending out a newsletter or post notifications, having a client base is super important for later down the road. Be sure to offer an incentive or a reason for signing up. Like discounts, freebies, etc.  Plus when you sign up using my code you get $30 in mailchimp credits to use if you sign up for a paid plan. Dont worry, you can stay on the free plan until you hit a certain subscriber cap! 

5. Make your social media accounts  

You'll want to have corresponding social media for your blog to help promote it. Normally you would want your social media to match your website name so make sure that's available as well! Instagram is a very good one to have if your brand is more visual. Check mine out here; @paperandaplan

How to plan your content for the new year

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Content planning can be a pain. There. I said it. Truth is, it doesn't have to be ! Often times we make it more complicated than it has to be. I have a process that I use that made content planning super easy for the new year. I finished the first quarter of the year already and it only took about an hour. So I figured this process was worth sharing !  

1. Brain dump ideas  

The first thing I do when I start my content planning is to brain dump ideas. I literally just write down any idea that comes to mind. It's a little more organized once I'm finished, but step one is to brain dump away. I love to look on Pinterest for blog post ideas or inspiration from the pins I saved. Often times I'll find ways to put my own twist on certain topics. 

Tip:  Once I'm finished brain dumping, it's smart to recycle some ideas that i didn't use from last year if I still need to fill in some spaces. 

2. Categorize them  

I personally categorize my blog posts into 4 different main sections. Productivity, business, social media, and blogging. I like to try my best and get one of each topic to write about per month. This helps to make sure my content is always fresh. 

This takes a little while because sometimes it'll fit into more than one section, but it helps to see what I'm working with. Plus I'll be able to tell if I have too many in one category, and basically none in another.  

3. Holiday posts  

I always make room for holiday posts if need be. For example in December I did a girl boss holiday gift guide. So for January i try to focus my posts around starting fresh, February I'll have a couples related post (It's a unique twist so stay tuned!), etc. try to think of what's going on during the month. Are people focused on school, is there a holiday coming up, is it vacation season, wedding season, etc. These posts are important because they can bring in lots of traffic since people can relate. 

4. Make a monthly spread  

I like to physically write out my months and how many posts I'll be posting a week. For 2018 I've decided on one post a week for now since I'll be writing a little more in depth versus shorter posts. Quality versus quantity am I right ? So that's 52 blog posts overall, and there's 4 weeks in a month. So for example I'll write out "January" and 4 lines under it. Then I'll decide what blog posts I want each week and write them in. 

I personally like wriing it out by hand. However you could use spreadsheets, Google docs, etc. For your layout. Google spreads even has a calendar template you can use. I tried it last year with my videos and I loved it. 

You can also click here to get my FREE digital blog planner

It's up to you how many months you want to do at a time. I recommend doing this monthly spread every quarter. I hear about people planning their whole year at one time, but I'll be honest I tried doing that and it just didn't work. Not because I couldn't think of ideas, but because I like to post based on what's relevant. Talking about net neutrality might not be that important in a few months. If I'm using a new program this month and decide to post about it in a few weeks, I may not be using it anymore. Do you see what I mean ? My suggestion would be quarterly or even monthly. I decided to go for the quarter and see how that works. 

There's no one right or wrong way to do this ,  but this was the quickest way for me. Leave me a comment if you do something different !  

See you guys next time. Stay productive ! 

Why your email list is so important

Most of us know of the famous "email list". However, it's even more common that we have no clue how to start them, or what to even do after you set it up. Mostly, why this is even important in the first place. 

We are all told that from the start we should have an email list.... And that's pretty much it. "It converts followers into clients" or "if your website magically goes down, what will you do?" Are commonly said phrases.  

 

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Why your email list is so important 

 First off, let's cover why your email list is so important in the first place.

I mean, you have social media right ? What do you need a list for ? 

Social media vs email list

Having an email list is one of the most targeted ways to reach your audience that CARES. When you sign up for an email list, most often it's because you wanted to see more content by them, they offered an incentive, or you signed up for a webinar or something like that. You normally don't just sign up without an incentive. If you do, then you're definitely interested in their content. With social media, anyone can follow you, and for a number of reasons. Maybe you were featured somewhere, or perhaps they just liked your feed. Your email list is often filled with the followers who show up often. I can definitely say that I recognize a lot of names from my Facebook group and Instagram. 

To start preparing

It's very important that you start creating your list early, so when you have a product, service, ect. You already have an audience to sell to. This is the main reason a lot of people create email lists to begin with. Say you have been building your list for a year, and you have 1,000 email subs. Awesome job! Once you have a product or service you have 1,000 people who your email is guaranteed to hit their inbox. On the other hand, if you don't have a list it can be a bit harder to reach your ideal audience. You would kind if just be shooting in the dark. 

Okay, it does convert followers into customers

So of course it converts followers into customers. Think of this on a larger scale. You hear about a new brand and you're looking at the shop. An email sign up box pops up and it says join the list for 10% off. So you sign up, and you buy something. They can continue to contact you about new sales and new releases which gets you to become a repeat customer. Not everyone is going to convert. You'll always have the people who don't want to pay for an ebook or who don't want to pay for online courses or webinars. There's so much free stuff out there, why would they? However you stand a better chance this way.

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So, what do you do once you have your email list? 

This is probably the part that stumped me the most. I knew it was important for the sake of growing my target audience. What I didn't know is what the hell to do once I had it. I still really don't (haha!....yeah there we go. I admit it.).  However, none of us really ever know 100% what we are doing so it's all good. 

Here's what I do know:  

Email lists can be used for plenty of things. Some of which I listed above. However there's so much more you can offer your list ! You want your audience to feel like VIPs. I aim for this so often, and I hope my email subs feel this way.   You can achieve this by offering exclusive freebies, pre-sale information, new blog post updates, give them sneak peeks of your latest project, ask for feedback, etc. Your email list is your own little personal army of dedicated friends. 

Take advantage of asking for feedback

feedback is one of the most valuable things we can receive from our audience. When you receive feedback, you can then tailor your content, products, services, etc. to the needs and wants of your audience. There's no guessing and checking here! They are literally telling you what they want. So make a small form and send it out! I got a lot of great results from my last survey.

Give them an incentive to stay around

This can be done with monthly freebies, weekly coupons, or really anything. Think about the email lists you're subscribed to. What do they have to offer that makes you want to stick around? I give away my free monthly calendars, and I also have my email list on my priority list to get any freebies I give away first. This is of course a little different for me because I don't have a product to sell (yet!). So I have to get a little creative. 

Don't just keep them around for the selling and promotions

Make sure that your email list doesn't just feel like a marketing platform. Nobody wants just emails about products or services all the time. Make sure to send at least one email every once in a while with nothing but useful information! The reason they are around is because you're helping them in some way. So supply them with some value about a topic they might relate to. 

I really hope this post helped give you some insight about email lists and what to do with them. PLEASE if you have any questions at all, leave a comment on this post and I can get back to you, or go to my contact page and send me an email. I would be happy to help!

As always, thanks for reading.

Creating a Blogging Schedule - Blogging for beginners

This is the second post in my blogging for beginners series, and I'll be showing you a couple of ways to create a blogging schedule. First we will go into how many times you should be posting, and what the exceptions are. Then I'll go over the different ways to create a blog schedule that works around your week. 

Most beginning bloggers don't know how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. I didn't really know what I was doing at first either, admittedly, which is perfectly okay! If you don't really know where to start or what you're doing, then sit tight because this post will hopefully help give you some clarity.

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How often should you post to your blog?

This has always been a topic of conversation, because nobody can seem to figure out the perfect formula to what works the best. So this is the best advice I can give you as to what to do.

First off, take a general look at how your schedule is from day to day. This is the most important thing. If you can manage 2 blog posts a week, do it. A number of studies show that posting twice a week helps with your search optimization. So basically, your website is considered "active" by Google or whatever search engine. This helps your site show up closer towards the top of the search. I always recommend putting out as many posts as you can when you're first starting out. Maybe you do twice or three times a week. 

However, once you get active readers coming to your blog (which is a lot more attainable than you think!) you can tone it down a bit if you need to. However, two times a week is still recommended. 

What's more important than how many times you post, is how consistently you post. This is where the schedule comes into play. If your readers know you post twice a month, then stick with that. If your readers know you post three times a week, stick with that. It's equally how many times you post, and how consistent you are with it.

How to make your blog schedule

There are a few ways you could go about making your ACTUAL schedule. However, there are a few things you should do before hand to accomplish this.

  1. Look at your weekly schedule for re-occurring events
  2. Brain storm a lot of ideas (like.... A LOT)
  3. Figure out what type of schedule you like best: digital or paper

I'll go over both digital schedules and paper schedules.

Digital schedules

Bloggers usually prefer this method because it allows you to move things around without much repercussion and mess. It's super easy to just change the date or time on your event  versus scratching something out. 

I suggest using google spreadsheets or excel for this one. Most of the time they will have calendar templates built into the program. I know for sure google does.

The digital method doesn't work as well for me, so I use paper.

Paper Schedules

This is great for those of you who need to have it in front of your face, physically in order to remember. Writing things down also helps you remember more than just typing something into your phone or computer.

There are a ton of different planners out there. More recently; however, I have ALWAYS recommended an hourly planner. 

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Actually Creating the Schedule

First what you'll want to do is dissect your week. Look at what events are reoccurring and schedule those in first. Then look at the time you have left. For example: if you work a 9-5, then you know what needs to get done has to be before or after those times. Maybe you have a one hour break for lunch. LEAVE SPACE FOR IT! You'd be surprised how much you can get done in that hour break period. 

Now that you have your reoccurring events down, look at what other major events you have.  Some examples would be doctors appointments, school activities, date night, etc. Be sure you schedule time for these next, or you might accidentally schedule something over it.

Last should be your other obligations, and/or hobbies, and errands. THIS is where you schedule in time for you blog. If you're looking at your schedule thinking "omg I can't do this". STOP. It's not that hard. You're making excuses for yourself, and you know it. If your blog is high on your priority list, then you'll get it done. Trust me. 

If you have to get up an hour earlier, then do it. If you have to stay up an extra hour, then do it. If you have to spend 30 minutes of your 1 hour break making graphics, then do it. If all you have is Friday night or the weekend, you gotta do it if it's that important to you.

Be stubborn with your schedule once you have it. However, make sure you have some cushion room. What I mean by this is: if you get out of class at 1:25, and you have to drive home, but you schedule yourself to do your blog post at 1:30. This probably isn't the smartest thing to do because you aren't allowing yourself that cushion time to get home and chill out for a second. If a task takes you longer than you thought, you want to make sure there's a time cushion.

Something you should keep in mind is that you do NOT have to get everything done in one sitting AT ALL. I actually recommend breaking things up and doing them throughout the week. It's less overwhelming this way. 

If you want to get a better look at how I schedule things out, be sure you are following me on my planner Instagram. I share how my planner looks and some awesome tools I use in conjunction with it.

 

Blogging for Beginners - finding your niche

When picking a focus for work, our blogs, etc. It can get pretty tricky. I've heard many complaints on this topic, and it's overall confusion.

We simply don't know where to begin, and starting is most definitely the hardest part. 

To get started with picking our focus we have to think of a few things:

  1. Our interests  
  2. The longevity of the topic  
  3. How you can grow / expand with that topic
  4. What our end goal is for ourselves  

So, lets get started. 

Looking at our interests  

Looking at our interests is step number 1. what are we interested in ? What topics spark  your interest ?? Maybe you love helping other bloggers, or perhaps you're passionate about helping people succeed financially. If you like social media or planning for example use these interests to create your focus. Things you're interested in make good niches. However, really look deep with this one. Have you always been interested in this, or is this interest just a fad? "Fad interests" are something that is only a temporary fascination. Make sure you're watching out for this, because you don't want to choose a niche that you'll only be interested in for a little while and then get bored.

Looking at the end goal  

I know I have this listed as number 4, but after giving it some thought, it honestly should go after number 1. Looking at the end goal is the most important part in my opinion. You've looked at your interests which is awesome. So now you probably have a physical or mental list of topics. However, what is your overall goal ? What are you trying to achieve in opening your blog ?  

For example, I created paper and a plan to help women content creators and biz owners alike, achieve success through planning and productivity. I had to think about who I wanted to help, and how I wanted to do it. 

The longevity of your niche  

Now that you may have narrowed down your ideas, let's look at what the hell I'm talking about in this point. Can this topic be covered over time? If so, then this may be a good choice. Create a short list of possible topics. If the ideas keep flowing, that's good! Topics and solutions are consistent in the world. Maybe there's a new blogging platform you can cover. Or a new social media platform comes out.

 How can you expand

what can you see yourself covering for a long time ? Will you still be interested in this topic in the future ?? You can of course shift your focus, but you want to still remain consistent in your content niche. Plus can you create evergreen content ? Evergreen content is content you can write now and it can still be relevant in 5 years to some extent. For example: how to build a WordPress site. Or basic fashion advice for newbies. If evergreen content can be easily made then this might be a good choice. With a little thinking, almost any topic can have evergreen content, but it's always good to have a large selection of topics. you'll want to also be sure you can shift within your niche. Maybe one day you'll want to focus on all desserts instead of just cakes. Make sure there's room for growth. 

If you have questions feel free to leave a comment,  and don't be shy! Share this with other beginning bloggers.  

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How I made $200 my fourth month blogging (July income report)

I never ever thought I'd do one of these let me tell ya. I was positive there was no way you could really make any money off of your blog, and the people that did had some kind of secret formula. After making  $200 in my 4th month blogging, I get it now. It's not easy, there's no formula, and it's hard work. You're not going to wake up one morning with thousands of dollars hitting your PayPal right off the bat. However I can tell you what i did to earn some extra money for my blog. $73 out of the money I made is saved aside to help pay my blog at the end of the year. Which I think is a pretty good start.

I didn't make this post to brag about what I made, or that I made anything at all, but instead to encourage new bloggers to get started. It IS POSSIBLE to make money from you blog early on.

(There are affiliate links in this post !) 

So how exactly did i make money on my blog ?

There's a few ways actually. So keep reading to find out what I made and how I did it.

 

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1. Affiliate marketing  

That made at least one of you close out of this blog post, but what people don't realize is that affiliate marketing is gonna be your main source of blog income if you don't have a product to sell. Even if you have a product to sell, if you're just starting out, affiliate income is a great way to stay afloat while you wait for sales.

So what is affiliate income  ?

In a nut shell, affiliate income is when you promote someone else's products in exchange for a commission of the sale. For example I'm an affiliate with Instantbossclub  . I use their services, I love them, and I recommend them to others. If they sign up, then i get a little extra money in my pocket to help me continue to support this blog. It's truly an awesome thing. You help others and make a little extra cash. There are tons and tons of affiliate programs out there that pay a pretty penny, and I highly recommend you guys check some out. 

2. Amazon

So this is another site I am an affiliate for, but it's a little different in that I have to promote certain products in order to see results and such. There's a lot more leeway to promote whatever I choose, but some items pay better than others. It's a great first program in my opinion and I recommend getting started with amazon. I post links to Amazon products and when someone purchases using the link I get a small percentage.

>> For 30 days of free amazon prime click HERE<<

3. YouTube Monetization  

YouTube is a huge part of my income and I actually do promote my YouTube on my blog ! If you notice sometimes I'll attatch a video that relates to what I'm talking about in the post. I also promote my videos heavily on Pinterest which is always a stat and income booster. I get paid from YouTube every month via paypal. It's also dependant on interaction with the ads on my videos and on my view count.  If you want to start a YouTube channel here are my tips for starting one. 

4. Instagram Ads  

So I actually get paid by a company called heartbeat. They pay you a certain amount of money to make a post for 72 hours promoting a product or service. My rate is $10 per post and it adds up quick. I didn't get any paid offers this month, but they're always adding new campaigns. Last month I made $20. You can CLICK HERE to sign up for heartbeat and start making money too. It's a super simple sign up process.

So what did I make in July?

Amazon affiliates- $8

Instant boss club affiliates- $41.25

client work - $160 

heartbeat- $0 

teami - $0

YouTube- $23.95  

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(Rounded)  $233

So there you go ! That's the total amount of money I made in July 2017.  

I didn't make this post to brag about how much I made or anything, but instead to encourage you that you can accomplish great things too! And while I have another....... 1,700 to go until I hit my monthly goal (lol!), it's a start. 

As always, thanks for reading.